Monday, September 28, 2020

Living the open-source Utopian dream

With everything going on in the world, I thought it would be worth sharing a positive story about working on open-source projects and a Utopia where everyone works together to make software that benefits the people who use it.

This story relates to the Rapid XAML Toolkit. If you're not familiar with the project, it's is a collection of tools to help developers building apps with XAML inside Visual Studio.

Recently (a Friday), I discovered that the functionality that works with files being dragged from Solution Explorer and dropped in the editor had stopped working in the latest versions of Visual Studio.

I raised an appropriate bug report and posted a few messages to people who may be able to help and/or who use the same functionality too.

By Wednesday morning my time (noting that Monday was a public holiday in the USA) a member of the Visual Studio team had explained that what I was seeing was a deliberate change in behavior. They added public documentation justifying the change and why it had been made. They also gave details of an alternative approach to get the same underlying behavior. Best of all, they raised a PR against my repository, which included the change in approach to get the same result.

Separately, I have a GitHub action that checks all the URIs in documentation (and elsewhere) are correct and are not "dead links". Over the same weekend, this started failing in an inconsistent way that I could not explain.

I then raised an issue on the repository of the action but wasn't overly confident about anything happening.

My Wednesday evening the author of the action had fixed the problem, released a new version, and created a PR for my repository to switch to the new version.

These two instances demonstrate and reinforce my idea of open source being about "everyone working together, so the world gets better software."  The other two people didn't have to make changes and create Pull Requests, but by doing so they've helped me and the people who use the toolkit.

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